Are businesses doing all they can to ensure that their technology investment is well spent? How can virtual agents become important contributors to voice-of-the customer feedback? Is visual IVR the future of customer engagement? What speech, language and voice technology solutions are making a difference in the marketplace? Find out answers to these questions as we continue to review companies who were making news at the New York event.
Empirix At a time where companies are making major investments in contact center technology to deliver a superior customer experience, there is a disconnect in how organizations test and monitor the effectiveness of their systems’ performance. Quality assurance solution provider Empirix released the results of a survey that they sponsored on LinkedIn earlier this summer. The study revealed that few companies invest in technology to proactively identify problems with customer service systems, or to preempt such difficulties in the first place.
More than 1,000 managers and executives across multiple industries and nations were asked how they assure high-quality customer experiences in contact centers as they enhance telephony, information systems and interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Among the survey’s findings:
-20% of companies adding new technology to their customer contact centers either wait for customers to complain, simply hope for the best, or only pay attention if it’s a major upgrade.
– 62% test upgrades manually by having employees randomly evaluate different aspects of performance.
-18% employ automated testing, which provides the most consistent and reliable intelligence.
-31% of companies invest in monitoring technology to keep their customer service systems running smoothly. However, 45% still use manual methods to monitor.
– 68% never test the voice quality in their contact centers. Poor voice quality is a negative factor in call center performance because it forces service representatives to repeat themselves or in worst-case scenarios, require customers to hang up and call again.
“The survey identified a major gap between investing in customer service technology and knowing how to get the most out of this investment,” said Tim Moynihan, vice president of marketing at Empirix. “Companies are committing significant sums to purchase hardware and software, but are somehow not viewing quality assurance as part of the equation. While manual testing shows that an organization is making an initial effort, it’s not an effective use of people’s time and it’s usually done on a one-time basis. It doesn’t provide a broad view of when and how problems might occur, especially when systems are subjected to a realistic number of users. Automated testing can validate the system thoroughly, from end to end, but as the survey shows, too few companies use it.”
Empirix solutions include pre-deployment testing and validation of network, service, and application performance to prevent issues; network monitoring to help lower support costs; and analytics to enable more informed decision-making
IntelliResponse offers virtual assistants (VAs) that empower customers through their journey for answers and task completion by simplifying the process of delivering information across multiple interaction channels. IntelliResponse’s demonstrated VOICES, a recently released VA-based voice of the customer platform. With VOICES, all customer interactions with the company’s virtual agents across web, mobile, agent and social channels are captured and transformed into a collection of easy-to-understand actionable insights. This information can be accessed in real-time to facilitate faster, more informed decision-making and better communication with customers.
VOICES captures every question customers and prospects ask, in their own natural language, through any self-service interaction channel. It leverages this linguistic and statistical native language processing and combines it with innovative data visualization technology. The data is automatically structured into well-organized themes that are broken into visual bubbles by category and sized by frequency of reference. The visual representation also enables users to see the changes in customer behavior and concerns on a daily basis. Marketers can explore, drill down and compare, right to the level of the individual question.
Jacada “IVR pain” is a phrase that has been frequently used to describe the frustration of callers forced to deal with outmoded, hard-to-navigate IVR systems, requiring them to repeat their questions/concerns to voice recognition systems that often don’t understand their responses and expend extra effort to communicate with IVRs on mobile devices. Customer service technology provider Jacada offers companies the opportunity to stop risking negative IVR experiences through their visual IVR solution. By enabling organizations to offer visually guided menus on their websites and on their customer’s smartphones, visual IVR dialing provides a convenient menu-driven interface to existing IVRs.
Guy Yair CO-CEO of Jacada called visual IVR “a fundamental change that adapts to changing customer behavior and technology development similar to what speech recognition was 20 years ago.” Noting that 95% of companies already have IVRs in place, Yair said that the solution makes financial sense, since it is easy to implement, allowing companies to upgrade while keeping their current IVRs. It reuses existing voice VXML based scripts and eliminates the need to constantly update information at different locations.
Beyond the ease of implementation, there are many ways that companies will derive added value from adapting visual IVR. “Reduced call volume and handle times are among the top benefits,” said Yair. “Companies can reduce routing, resulting in lower telephony costs. But most important is the increased customer satisfaction engendered by visual IVR.” He demonstrated that the solution makes greater consistency and continuity possible. “A customer can start on the web, and continue on their mobile device or by speaking with an agent. Since it is a single cross-channel platform, customers can have the same experience on all touch points.”
The advantages of providing visual IVR are numerous. Beyond the obvious ease of navigation, they can also move to chat, schedule a callback and only when necessary, connect an agent. Escalation will be needed less than with traditional IVRs, where it was often the only option available to resolve issues. Jacada’s visual IVR will put customers in the correct queue to receive answers. It will leverage the value of a contact center agent by offering a 360 degree view of customers before they engage with them. Call intercept is also enabled by the visual IVR solution.
Yair predicts that the increasing demand for better self-service options and high penetration of smartphones will have a direct impact on customer engagement. “Customers will navigate through a process visually,” he said. ‘They will speak to an agent when they choose, unlike today, where their initial contact often requires them to engage an agent immediately.
LinguaSys debuted an updated solution that enables companies of all sizes to reap actionable intelligence from social media and Big Data in 15 native languages. Sentiment@Work is the newest human language technology. Sentiment@Work which is driven by LinguaSys’s proprietary engine Carabao, offers native language analysis, achieving a higher degree of linguistic breadth and data granularity.
The immense growth of non-English social media and e-commerce, along with increasingly global customer bases, make it necessary for more companies to operate in multiple languages online. Just about every study shows that consumers prefer to make online purchases in their native language and consumer feedback has greater intrinsic value when provided, analyzed and responded to in the customer’s native language. The solution supports English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Chinese (simplified), Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malay, Pashto, Russian, Persian, Urdu, Hebrew, and Arabic with French soon to follow.
LinguaSys customers include governments and Fortune 500 companies. Entrepreneur, sports and technology mogul Mark Cuban took a significant position in LinguaSys in 2012. “Sentiment@Work is the solution for companies who need to know what global customers are saying in their own language,” said LinguSys CEO Brian Garr. “For example, our clients might want insight on what a Russian-speaking guest really said about their hotel room and their breakfast in the same Tweet.”
Sentiment@Work is available on demand through self-service at Amazon’s AWS Marketplace. Customers may also integrate the technology within their firewalls, tailoring it with specific vocabularies and other applications such as advanced text analytics and machine translation.
LumenVox The service-oriented speech recognition software supplier came to the 2012 event with an ambitious agenda and according to CEO Dave Rich, in the ensuing year they have “executed on the initiatives we planned to execute.” These include further evolving their business model to depend less on direct sales, continuing to “collaborate confidently” by developing channel partnerships that integrate LumenVox technology and supporting these channel partners with upgraded education and training programs to help support the success of their clients
Avaya expanded their DevConnect SPP (Select Product Program) to include the LumenVox Speech Recognizer, Text-to-Speech Engine and Call Progress, now available with the Avaya Aura Experience Portal. Voxeo Labs, now Tropo Inc., incorporates LumenVox technology to provide voice recognition and text to speech applications. While these companies now also sell the technology, LumenVox is instrumental in its delivery and implementation.
LumenVox is also the preferred voice technology vendor for Convergys and CSG. LumenVox technology is used worldwide by companies such as Verizon, GM, Toyota, Kmart, the Aussie Post, British Telecom, as well as government agencies, banks and nearly 2,000 resellers and developers.
THECALLR is a Paris, France based voice technology solutions specialist that launched USA operations in May. Their CALLTRACKR call tracking solution measures and analyzes the effectiveness of inbound and marketing campaigns by accurately tracking incoming calls from any promotional source, including Internet ads, radio and TV. It provides statistics that enable companies to know which channels are performing. A Click-to-Call feature provides users with local phone numbers, allowing customers to easily reach them. THECALLR’s versatile API integrates CALLTRACKR into a company’s existing business tools and allows organizations to export data direct to their analytics solutions. CEO Taoufik Zagdoud notes that while the API offers developers latitude in customizing for specific business needs or CRM integration. Their solutions also feature out-of-the-box applications. “We’re a one-stop shop for inbound and outbound routing and voice automation” he said. Their automated outbound dialing solution, DIALR, enables sophisticated campaigns to combine voice and SMS text messages. Since it can be accessed through any web browser, requiring no software, hardware, or coding enabling, a company can quickly set up an integrated campaign to spread its message, record a voice response and set up call routing for customers that want to get in touch.
According to Zagdoud, the company is also “changing the way we use IVRs.” Smart routing of tracked calls and web session IDs provides unique phone numbers. This information enables companies to prioritize by customer value. VIP customers can be routed to agents with the specific skills and knowledge to serve them while others are routed to the contact center. All relevant information is transmitted to agents via screen pops. Zagdoud cited an international cosmetic company that is able to provide the same level of support online or on the phone that is offered in their brick-and-mortar stores by using smart routing to direct inquiries to the most qualified agents who have access to the customer’s previous activities. In their international operations, THECALLR works with an across-the-board group of verticals, including financial services, car dealers, healthcare, debt collection and more.